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DDOT unveils new bus route, alters others

Mark Hicks
The Detroit News

Detroit — Lori Stewart has been riding Detroit Department of Transportation buses long enough to remember when the system had another name (Department of Street Railways).

So when the city resident learned department officials would unveil a new route at a community meeting Tuesday, she was on board.

“They’ve made a lot of good improvements,” she said. “This will make it easier for me.”

She and other regular bus riders gathered at the Joseph Walker Williams recreation center for a glimpse at DDOT service changes scheduled to take effect April 22. Those include the new route — No. 42, or the “Mid-City Loop” — tweaks to about nine routes and a significant update to one.

The overhauls are the third of three phases in a multimillion-dollar expansion that DDOT has been rolling out since last year at the formerly troubled agency — adding trips to the schedule as well as boosting the number of 24-hour routes connecting downtown and neighborhoods.

Detroit leaders have described it as the largest service expansion in two decades. Along with that, last month DDOT announced eligible bus riders with disabilities, seniors 65 years of age and older as well as Medicare recipients can receive reduced fares for four years instead of two.

The community forums are aimed at allowing regular users to learn more of the details as well as offer input, said Dan Dirks, the DDOT director. “We’ve gone out of our way to have them,” he said of the meetings.

About a dozen people sat around tables at the recreation center Tuesday evening to hear directly from DDOT officials about the tweaks, including shifting times for some existing routes and a major upgrade for No. 49 (Vernor).

Its path now extends to Michigan and Schaefer in Dearborn instead of stopping at the suburb’s border, according to a department leaflet. “We’ve allowed it to extend and get you guys to a couple better access points,” said Mikki Taylor-Hendrix, a DDOT community liaison for scheduling.

The new No. 42 route has service to Highland Park, Detroit’s North End, Detroit Medical Center, Wayne State University, New Center, Henry Ford Hospital and Virginia Park. The route aims to be a “connector” while running every 30 minutes on weekdays, said Neil Greenberg, DDOT’s manager of service development and scheduling.

“We know there are a lot of customers who are rightfully not so happy with routes that don’t run often, only once an hour. We get it.”

The meeting was helpful for longtime bus riders such as John Gruda, a retired teacher. “There should be more community input,” he said.

The changes are set to be previewed during two other community meetings this week: 5:30-7 p.m. Wednesday at Campbell Library, 8733 Vernor Hwy; and the same time Thursday at SER Metro-Detroit, 9301 Michigan Ave.

For information about service changes: www.ridedetroittransit.com.